Eating with the Seasons: Autumn
Seasons form the natural backdrop for eating. Many ancient traditions believe that we are what we eat, and most dietary guidelines correlate with patterns of nature. We are influenced by changes in weather and therefore eating with the seasons allows for us to stay in harmony.
For example, A change of season causes an individual’s mood, pulse quality, blood pressure, body temperature and metabolism to vary. Foods are important to ensure that the body adjusts appropriately to the changing seasons.
In the Autumn season, things begin to fall and mature – it is a season of deficiency and change. In Chinese Medicine, Autumn correlates with skin health, respiration, body fluid metabolism, blood circulation, immunity and low mood. Cooling temperatures pull blood inwards toward the core to prepare for the colder winter.
This results in feeling more chilly, dry skin on the arms/legs, and pulling more fluid from the colon resulting in slower bowels. As blood is pulled to the core, there is a natural increase in appetite to prepare the body with a fresh layer of protective insulation.
There is more fluid loss in the Autumn as chilly weather causes blood vessels to tighten and blood pressure slightly increases. The kidneys release extra pressure by removing fluid from circulation and draining the body. The drier Autumn weather can result in an itchy throat, a dry nose, chapped lips, rough skin, hair loss and dry stools.
This is why it is important to eat foods that nourish and moisturize the body. These nourishing foods include root vegetables (which are rich in many nutrients from the soil), raw honey, squash, ghee, nuts and seeds. Foods with astringent properties also help to avoid fluid loss such as apple and lemons.
Tips for Wholesome Autumn Nutrition:
Stay extra hydrated – to balance the drying effects of the season.
Goal – Drink half your body weight in ounces of water to ensure adequate organ function.
Add Lemon. – Add ½ squeezed lemon to 16oz water daily for improved hydration.
Eat Warm & Oily – Warm foods, stews, soups, broths, healthy fats and oils help to nourish in the Fall.
Eat Squash – Provides great source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, necessary for healthy immune system. Provide the mineral manganese, an important nutrient to protect against cellular damage. Also a great source of fiber for healthy digestion and gut flora. Carbohydrate starches from squash are unique in their ability to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.
Save the Seeds! – Seeds from pumpkin or other squash are packed with nutrients, especially healthy fats and zinc.
Lots of Autumn Leafy Greens – Ensure optimal nutrition by loading up on the season greens such as arugula, Swiss chard, beet greens, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. These provide calcium, iron and vitamin K which are important for building blood and bone.
Raw, local Honey – Eating 1 teaspoon daily provides lubrication for the lungs and nourishment for the intestines. It also supplies immune supportive compounds. Honey is a good source of electrolytes which are often lost in the fluids.
Turmeric – Use a pinch to a teaspoon with a small amount of black pepper to keep circulation strong in the autumn and help to warm chilly hands and feet.
Cooked Apples – Apples help to build resilience in Fall and are better digested when baked, boiled or steamed.
Ashwagandha – Support your mood and immune system with ashwagandha. This herbal medicine is a supreme tonifying herb which has been shown to be effect at regulating stress response, uplifting mood, improving sleep. Ashwagandha has properties which regulate thyroid function, decrease inflammation, inhibit tumor cell growth. It has been used to regulate hormones, increase fertility in men and women, improves muscle integrity and support healthy growth in children.
To learn more about ashwagandha, click here to read my blog post.
Stay warm, stay well and stay tuned for some seasonal recipes!